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Karen Martin and Beverley Ireland-Symonds promote the value of having effective communication skills for individuals, teams and organisations.
Friday, 30 April 2010

Who has the real communication issue?

A good friend of mine, who is a committed and experienced ESOL lecturer, was telling me the other day that she is particularly concerned about one of her students. Despite this student being one of the first to join the class, she was rapidly falling behind the other students, even those who joined the class much later. I asked all the questions I could think of:
  • "Is she committed?" ("Yes"), 
  • "Does she attend regularly?" ("Yes, she hasn't missed a single class"),
  • "Does she complete any homework she is given?" ("Yes, always" )  and so on...
When I had asked as many questions as I could think of and we agreed that the student was keen and appeared to be doing everything she could to learn, so I asked a final question:

  •   "What do you think you could do to change the way you communicate with her?"
The look on my friend's face was a picture "Why should I change anything?" she asked, with a hint of hostility.  Well it was just a question!  


You see, I think it's easy to think that the problem is the student.  If there is an issue in the way the student is learning, perhaps it's worth reviewing the way she is expected to learn. This means looking at verbal and written communication methods.  Perhaps her current methods just don't suit the needs of this particular learner.  I'm not saying I'm right, but I believe it's always worth looking at.  After all if you've tried everything else you can think of - why not try something new?

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